‘Could a rule be given from without, poetry would cease to be poetry, and sink into a mechanical art. It would be μóρφωσις, not ποίησις. The rules of the IMAGINATION are themselves the very powers of growth and production. The words to which they are reducible, present only the outlines and external appearance of the fruit. A deceptive counterfeit of the superficial form and colours may be elaborated; but the marble peach feels cold and heavy, and children only put it to their mouths.’ [Coleridge, Biographia ch. 18]

‘ποίησις’ (poiēsis) means ‘a making, a creation, a production’ and is used of poetry in Aristotle and Plato. ‘μóρφωσις’ (morphōsis) in essence means the same thing: ‘a shaping, a bringing into shape.’ But Coleridge has in mind the New Testament use of the word as ‘semblance’ or ‘outward appearance’, which the KJV translates as ‘form’: ‘An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form [μóρφωσις] of knowledge and of the truth in the law’ [Romans 2:20]; ‘Having a form [μóρφωσις] of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away’ [2 Timothy 3:5]. I trust that's clear.

There is much more on Coleridge at my other, Coleridgean blog.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Midnight on Saturn, 1879

A lovely image, this, from Sun, Moon and Stars (1879) by Victorian children's author and popular educator Agnes Giberne.


That's from the German edition of Giberne's book, because it was the largest version of the image I could find. The Wikipedia link at Giberne's name (above) has a different version, smaller but much more gorgeously coloured:


I can't say why the details are different. Might it be that the publishers of the later-issued German Sonne, Mond und Sterne availed themselves of more recent science that repudiated the idea that there might be seashores and rocks on the surface of Saturn, and so reworked the print to cover those obnoxious features under swirls of cloud? The sea is still clearly visible, though. Or could it be a brand new, and actually different image?

Actually, the more I look at the two images, the more I realise: it must be that latter.

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